A new season always throws up a few surprising results in the first couple of weeks but what has the first round of games told us?
First things first, Chelsea are going to take some beating. Granted, West Brom offered very little resistance but to score 6 goals in the first game when players are supposed to be easing themselves in sends out a clear message to all their title rivals.
It’s a pity that both they and Man United didn’t get a tougher test in the first game. An easy looking fixture for both against newly promoted teams resulted in very straightforward wins and has told us nothing about their real title credentials.
That said we did witness some impressive performances. Drogba was apparently a doubt before the game but at 32 is in the form of his life and has already hit the ground running. He certainly knows where the goal is.
For United, it was Scholes who stole the show with a masterful performance against an ultimately dispirited Newcastle team who had started reasonably well. I’ve always liked Paul Scholes. He can’t tackle for toffee but just about every other element of his game is first class. His eye for a pass and range of passing is truly world class, even at the grand old age of 35. He has reinvented himself so many times during his career and yet excels in almost every role. A model professional and a one off.
The first game of the weekend paired up the two clubs who raced each other all through last season for the coveted final Champions League spot. Spurs deserved it in the end and had it not been for a stellar performance in goal by Joe Hart, they would have put City to the sword and put down an early season marker. Spurs are a strange club. Hugely exciting at times but ultimately they let themselves down. What, though of City? Well the jury is definitely still out. They played like a team of individuals and whilst it may take a few games to gel into a unit, there were few signs that this team will challenge for the title. I know - it’s really early days - but the massive outlay on multiple players so far does not look as if it has been underpinned by a clear strategy and does look a little kamikaze and haphazard. Their next game is at home to Liverpool. I expect these two to challenge each other closely for a Champions League spot and will watch with interest as they do battle. I genuinely expect Liverpool to come out on top.
Liverpool met Arsenal in another fascinating first weekend match up. A draw may seem a logical result but masks the full story of the game. As the teams emerged for the 2nd half, with the scoreline goalless, Liverpool had been reduced to 10-men with Joe Cole sent off for over-exuberance rather than recklessness. What an anticlimax on his home debut! As is often the case, playing with 10 men galvanised the team and having made a fast start to the half with a classy goal, they settled into a pattern to stifle. Arsenal were hugely disappointing with their response. At half time, they must have felt they could win the game. If any team can suck the life out of the opposition with neat and tidy keep ball, it’s Arsenal. Yet they were utterly toothless and probably didn’t deserve their late equaliser. Cole’s suspension may be a blessing. It takes the pressure off a new system which somewhat nullifies Gerrard’s influence. Whilst Cole sits out 3 games, Gerrard can renew his partnership with Torres. There’s no doubt this suits them both and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Arsenal will be delighted with a point at Anfield. Chamakh did not show a great deal but at least offers them an outlet they have lacked since Adebayor left. With Fabregas and Van Persie both fit they will again mount a decent challenge but they still look a couple of players short of a proper tilt at the title.
Blackpool’s first match in the top flight was wholly unpredictable. Not in their wildest dreams could they have expected to win by 4 goals and be top of the league albeit for a couple of hours before Chelsea stole their thunder. Certainly it wasn’t a result I thought likely or indeed possible. In a previous blog, I wondered whether Blackpool were so ill equipped for this league that they may take a while to win their first game. Shows how much I know. In fairness, no one could have legislated for such a wretched Wigan performance. Next up are Chelsea and I suspect by Monday, Martinez may well be the first manager sacked this season.
And to finish off, a couple of transfer tips for the fantasy football. I might make this a regular feature, despite the relentless mickey taking from some work friends on Goops tips!
This week I’m going for a couple of bargain midfield options – Gary Taylor Fletcher (Blackpool) and Marc Albrighton (Villa) both had very promising debuts at this level and will be new, fresh and cheap.
Til next time.